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"Eden Burning" is vintage Elizabeth Lowell, a reminder of her past before she forsook pure romance for the world of intrigue and intricate, weird, sometimes boring business stuff with a dab of good old-fashion love.
Perhaps it's because it is basically a book from Lowell's past.
This book is a revision of "Fires of Eden," released in 1986.
This evokes the days when Lowell's heroes ignored their business interests while they fell in love with their heroines.
Most of Lowell's books from those days had strikingly similar characteristics, and no matter which name you choose to stick on this novel, it's no different.
The hero (Chase) is an absolute and total jerk to the heroine (Nicole) at the beginning of the book. He cruelly and deeply wounds her emotionally, making not only the heroine cry, but the reader as well.
Usually, as with Chase, his actions are dictated by experiences with women, which cause him to make unfair and incorrect assumptions about the heroine, which justifies his nastiness, in his mind.
Once the hero accomplishes his climax of loathsomeness, breaking the heroine's spirit, causing her to pale (or washing the color from her face) and puts hurt in her eyes, he realizes his mistake, recognizes his hideous behavior, vows to hate himself forever and promises to erase the hurt and return the happiness to his lady's eyes no matter what sacrifices he must make.
After this revelation, the hero spends 100 pages or so trying to woo back the lady and undo the damage he wrought.
The hero comes up with some corny nickname for his lady. "Butterfly." Then he says really weird stuff like, "Yes, 'Butterfly,' come to me. Drink the sweetness." Lines that your husband seems to turn right to when he's looking for a reason to make fun of your reading selection.
But for some reason, no matter how dastardly the hero treats the heroine at the beginning, you find yourself liking him at the end. And although Lowell's endings are perhaps a little too ambiguous, hers are frequently the books you pick up to read again and again. Or at least passages.
"Eden Burning" is no exception. If you don't read the book from cover to cover repeatedly, you'll definitely find yourself going back to certain passages.
Many great romance novels have been written through the years. It's worth dusting off these oldies.
Johanna Lindsey's books aren't full of tenderness and sweetness from cover to cover. Either the hero or heroine usually has some issues, and one or the other usually ends up acting nasty before the two settle down to their happily-ever-after.
"Angel" is no exception to that Lindsey formula.
Angel is a gunfighter, a man with a grisly past and reputation. Cassie is a woman who frequently finds herself in trouble from meddling -- with the best of intentions -- in others' affairs.
Angel ends up having to protect her from such trouble and winds up falling in love with her. Which doesn't make him happy. Until the end, of course.
Not all good romance novels are written by best-selling authors. From time to time, I happen upon a book from a lesser-known writer. If it's worth reading, I'll tell you about it.
"Head Over Heels" by Susan Andersen is a light, sometimes funny story about an ex-marine's reluctant romance with a restoration design specialist. Not only do both find themselves in a small town despite a desire to be anywhere else, both have an interest in finding a killer.
Coop and Veronica don't want to like each other and both are anti-marriage as well as anti-small town. But who can resist the tug of true, fate-inspired love?
(c) 2002, The State (Columbia, S.C.).
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Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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